Republicans have won just one out of nearly two dozen lawsuits they’ve filed since Election Day

Republicans have won just one out of nearly two dozen lawsuits they’ve filed since Election Day
donald trump debate
President Donald Trump.

Win McNamee/Getty Images


  • President Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican officials have filed 21 lawsuits since Election Day in an effort to contest the results of the 2020 election.
  • The campaign filed lawsuits and motions to intervene in cases in swing states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
  • They’ve won just one lawsuit so far, in Pennsylvania, and the victory doesn’t affect the election results.
  • Scroll down for a list of lawsuits the Trump campaign and Republicans have filed and where they stand.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Faced with the prospect of losing to a man he spent months hammering as corrupt, doddering, and mentally deficient, President Donald Trump is going on offense, spreading lies and conspiracy theories about a “rigged” election marred by “major fraud” from Democrats.

He’s alternated between demanding that some states stop counting ballots, which he doesn’t have the power to do, and saying that others should keep counting, which they were doing anyway.

To that end, the Trump campaign and other Republican groups have mounted 21 legal challenges since Election Day.

The lawsuits argue that states and counties have violated election laws, playing into Trump’s political strategy to discredit the results of the 2020 election that President-elect Joe Biden won.

Republicans have filed the lawsuits in local, state, and federal courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — all states that Biden won or is projected to win, according to Decision Desk HQ data published by Insider.

The Trump campaign has won only one of the 21 cases so far.

On November 12, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that first-time voters were supposed to confirm their IDs with county boards of election by November 9, rather than November 12. The decision opened the door to disqualify the ballots of people who didn’t verify their IDs in time.

It’s not clear how many votes will be affected, and those ballots hadn’t been counted yet anyway, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Biden is ahead in Pennsylvania by 60,000 votes.

Of the other 20 lawsuits, Trump and other Republicans have withdrawn from or lost 13 of them, and seven of them are still pending.

rudy giuliani

Attorney for the President, Rudy Giuliani, speaks about election lawsuits at a news conference in the parking lot of a landscaping company on November 7, 2020 in Philadelphia.

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images


Here’s a list of the lawsuits and where they stand

Pennsylvania — One win, 6 losses, 5 pending

  • The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit asking a state appeals court to reject the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s announcement that registered voters had until November 12 to provide proof of identity for mail-in ballots. Republicans believe the deadline should be November 9. This is the one case that Trump won.
  • In a wide-ranging federal lawsuit, the Trump campaign sued over alleged irregularities in the way ballots were counted throughout the state. They’ve argued that 14,000 votes should be thrown out. The campaign submitted a revised version of the lawsuit days later that retracted many of its original allegations. A judge hasn’t yet heard the case. 
  • Another federal lawsuit brought by Republicans sought to delay the deadline for ballot requests. The judge rejected it.
  • A third federal lawsuit sought to stop the Montgomery County Board of Elections from allowing voters to “cure” their ballots — a process that allows people to fix clerical errors on their ballots to make sure their votes count. Republicans abandoned the lawsuit and withdrew from the case.
  • The campaign sued in yet another federal case to stop Philadelphia County from counting votes without Republicans present. The judge dismissed the case after Trump’s lawyers said Republican election watchers were, in fact, present. The Trump campaign then appealed the decision in an attempt to re-count a few thousand ballots. A judge hasn’t yet made a decision on the appeal.
  • In another Montgomery County case, this one filed in a local court, Trump’s lawyers sought to stop the county from counting mail-in ballots. The lawsuit is still pending, but the lawyers withdrew from the case on Friday.
  • A lawsuit in Bucks County filed by Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette on Election Day made a technical challenge on the county’s method of organizing ballots before counting them. She withdrew the case two days later and lost the election.
  • The Trump campaign appealed that Bucks County case on Monday, and it’s still pending.
  • In a state court, Republicans challenged an instruction from the Secretary of State’s office regarding provisional ballots. A state appellate court judge dismissed the request but ordered the secretary of state to segregate provisional ballots in case their validity becomes contested.
  • Local Republicans sought to stop Northampton County from revealing the identities of people whose ballots were canceled and lost the case.
  • The campaign filed a motion to intervene in a Supreme Court case brought by Republicans that centers on the deadline by which Pennsylvania officials are allowed to receive ballots. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that officials could receive ballots until November 6 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Republicans appealed the decision to the high court, which was deadlocked at 4-4 because Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate, leaving the lower court’s ruling in place. The Supreme Court signaled it could hear the case again but has not yet granted the request to intervene.

Nevada — 2 losses

  • The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit requesting that ballots stop being counted in the state over concerns about signature-matching technology and election observers’ claims that they weren’t being allowed to watch ballots being processed closely enough. The Nevada Supreme Court denied the request.
  • The Trump campaign and the RNC filed a lawsuit in state court asking to stop ballot counting in Clark County — a heavily Democratic area — until GOP officials could observe the process. A district judge rejected the request on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have evidence to back up their allegations. Republicans appealed the case to the Nevada Supreme Court, which said on November 5 that the campaign and Republican officials had reached a settlement that allowed expanded ballot observation. They later withdrew the case.

Georgia — One loss

  • A judge in Chatham County denied the Trump campaign’s request to toss out 53 ballots that a GOP poll watcher said arrived after polls closed at 7 p.m. on November 3. The Washington Post reported that the poll watcher presented no evidence in court that the ballots came in late and that county officials testified that they were received in time.

Michigan — 3 losses, one pending

  • In a federal lawsuit, the Trump campaign alleged a number of irregularities — such as that GOP election observers were told to stand six feet away from ballot counters because of the coronavirus — meant that Michigan should not certify its votes. A judge hasn’t yet heard the case.
  • A judge on the Michigan Court of Claims denied the Trump campaign’s request to stop counting ballots in the state. Judge Cynthia Stephens said litigating the issue didn’t make sense given that ballots in Michigan had more or less been fully counted.
  • A poll challenger named Sarah Stoddard and a group called the Election Integrity Fund filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of election results in Detroit, claiming that absentee ballots were improperly reviewed. Judge Timothy Kenny denied the motion on the grounds that there was no proof that election oversight protocol hadn’t been followed. Kenny issued another ruling later denying other motions, including a request for an additional audit of the election.
  • A Republican-aligned law firm called the Great Lakes Justice Center filed a lawsuit in Wayne County’s Circuit Court against Detroit and Wayne County alleging “massive fraud in the election vote-counting procedures” and calling for an entirely new election. A judge denied the case.

Arizona — One loss, one pending

  • The Trump campaign joined a lawsuit brought by two Republicans in Maricopa County claiming that a substantial number of GOP ballots were invalidated because voters used Sharpies to fill in their choices. There is no evidence that using Sharpies leads to issues with scanning ballots, and, in fact, officials have said using Sharpies is preferred. The Post also reported that the Maricopa County attorney’s office said no ballots were rejected and that if they are, voters have an opportunity to cast another one. A Republican-aligned group abandoned the legal fight after Maricopa County officials challenged the factual basis for the lawsuit, and the Trump campaign lost the fight soon afterward.
  • The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in state court alleging that Maricopa County was improperly rejecting ballots cast by some voters. The case remains pending.

Key cases and Supreme Court rulings before Election Day

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court ruled that election officials could receive mail-in ballots until November 6 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Republicans requested an immediate stay from the US Supreme Court that would have blocked the state Supreme Court’s ruling.

But the US Supreme Court was deadlocked at 4-4, leaving the lower court’s ruling in place. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito voted to grant Republicans’ request, while Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to participate in the case “because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings,” the court said in a statement. However, Barrett has not recused herself, meaning she could cast a decisive fifth vote when the Supreme Court takes up the case again.

North Carolina

In a similar case brought by Republicans in North Carolina, the Supreme Court ruled that ballots received up to nine days after November 3 could be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

The decision came after the Trump campaign and Republicans asked in two separate cases for the high court to put back in place a June statute from the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature that would have allowed ballots to be counted only if they were received up to three days — not nine — after Election Day.

Five justices — Roberts, Kavanaugh, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor — ruled against reinstating the statute. Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas dissented, while Barrett did not participate in the North Carolina case.

Wisconsin

Republicans notched a victory in a case involving the deadline to receive ballots in Wisconsin. The US Supreme Court ruled against reviving an appeals court decision that would have allowed election officials to receive absentee ballots up to six days after Election Day.

The court’s five conservative justices — Roberts, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Alito — ruled against reviving the lower court’s ruling, while the three liberals — Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor — dissented.

The Wisconsin case made headlines because of Kavanaugh’s and Kagan’s dueling opinions.

Kavanaugh, a Trump-appointed justice who was confirmed to the high court in 2018, wrote in a concurring opinion that all ballots should be received by Election Day.

“Those States want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election,” he wrote. “And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter.”

Kagan fired back in a sharp dissent, taking issue with Kavanaugh’s assertion that the arrival of absentee ballots after Election Day could “flip” the results of the race.

“Justice Kavanaugh alleges that ‘suspicions of impropriety’ will result if ‘absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election,'” she wrote. “But there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more ‘suspicio[us]’ or ‘improp[er]’ than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”

Texas

A federal court in Texas and the state’s Supreme Court denied two Republican requests to throw out nearly 130,000 ballots that were cast via drive-thru polling sites in Harris County, one of Texas’ most heavily Democratic areas.

The Texas Supreme Court rejected a request from Republican candidates and activists to toss the ballots. US District Judge Andrew Hanen, appointed by President George W. Bush, reached the same conclusion and denied the second request from GOP candidates and a right-wing radio host.

Hanen ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to sue and ask that ballots that were legally cast be discounted. However, he ordered the county to set aside the 127,000 ballots in case an appeals court disagreed with him and ultimately threw those votes out.

This article has been updated.

  • Read more:
  • Ballots arriving late in the mail won’t save Trump
  • A federal judge threw out a Republican effort to invalidate 127,000 ballots cast at drive-thru voting locations in Texas
  • Pennsylvania, Texas, and Minnesota are setting aside some of their ballots in case a judge throws out the votes. Here’s why.
  • Trump keeps saying he’ll sue for voter fraud, but he hasn’t made that case in any of the 5 lawsuits he’s filed
  • How Trump’s uphill legal battle against Biden over the election results could play out

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